Looking for the best way to send money from the United States to family, friends or businesses in Kenya (or even to your own bank account)? Don't head straight to your American bank - turn to online money transfer services instead. They nearly always offer better exchange rates and lower fees - which means for the same amount of dollars you send, the recipient will receive more shillings.
Compare ways of sending money to Kenya
Use our table below to compare services that send money from America to Kenya. Compare the money transfer providers' fees and speeds, then click "Go to site" when you've found the best one to send your US Dollars to Kenya.
Here's our simple process for sending a money transfer to Kenya as a cash pickup or bank transfer - the two options are similar:
Compare your options. Use our table above to find a money transfer provider that sends USD to Kenya. One may be better for cash pickups while another might be better suited to a bank transfer. Once you've found the best one for your requirements, click Go to site.
Register for an account. You'll need to give your name, address, contact details, proof of ID and method of payment.
Provide recipient details. Enter your recipient's name and contact information. If you're sending straight to their Kenyan bank account, you'll need the account number, SWIFT or IBAN plus their bank branch's address.
Enter the transfer amount. Check you're happy with the fees, exchange rates and transfer speed, then enter the amount you wish to send. Many services give the amount of Kenyan Shilling your recipient should receive, so double check this.
Complete your transfer. Send your money transfer to Kenya. Keep any reference number safe so you can track your transfer - your recipient may need it too.
If you send to a Kenyan bank account, your recipient just needs to wait for the funds to arrive. For a cash pick up, your Kenyan recipient will need to show some form of photo ID in order to pick up the funds. It's also important that you give them the transaction reference number to streamline the process.
Bank deposit. Most major banks in America let you wire money to banks in Kenya. However, you might get weaker exchange rates and pay higher fees all for the privilege of a slower transfer.
Online money transfer services. Online companies like XE and Wise (TransferWise) make international money transfers to Kenya easy with bank transfers or cell phone top ups often offered as easy delivery options.
Transfer agents across America. Many transfer providers have locations dotted all across America, making it easy for you to send money that can be easily picked up in similar agent locations in Kenya.
Checks and money orders. If speed is not an issue, you can always pick up an international check from your bank or the US Postal Service to send to Kenya.
Cash pick-up. Remitly and WorldRemit allow you to collect cash, even if you don't have a bank account in Kenya.
Bank deposit. If you have a Kenyan bank account, you can have money transferred directly into this without having to make any trips to a money transfer agent location.
PayPal. The Xoom app allows you to receive money from the United States onto your cell phone, into your Kenyan bank account, or as a cash pick-up.
Checks and money orders. Both personal checks and money orders can be sent directly to you where you live but these tend to be the slower options.
What documents do I need to transfer money to Kenya?
To send money from the United States to Kenya, you'll need the following:
1. Photo identification
Most providers require a driver's license, passport or other American government-issued ID. You can send transfers without ID but may need to give your instead.
2. Payment method
Your options depend on the provider's services. Popular methods include cash, debit or credit card payments, bank account transfers and personal checks.
3. Recipient information
You'll need their name (matching their ID) plus contact details. If sending to a Kenyan bank account, you'll need the a/c number, SWIFT and branch details.
What documents do I need to receive money in Kenya?
To collect money in person in Kenya, the recipient will need:
1. Transfer number
The reference number - sometimes called a PIN, MTCN or tracking number.
2. Government-issued ID
A official ID, such as an Kenyan passport or driving license.
3. The transfer amount
To know how much has been sent, usually to within 10% of the total.
4. Sender information
The sender's name and address and the country from where the money was sent.
How much does it cost to send money to Kenya from America?
The cost of sending money to Kenya from the United States depends on the exchange rate between USD to KES, the fees, how you want your recipient to receive your transfer and the turnaround time:
The mid-market rate is the rate banks and transfer services use to trade between one another. It is the best rate that you can get. But not all money transfer providers offer you this mid-market rate so compare the exchange rate you're offered to the mid-market rate and look for the smallest difference.
Transfer fees. Are you being charged a flat fee or a percentage of your transfer amount? For example, a provider offering to transfer your money to Kenya for a flat or low fee might work out better if you plan to send a large amount.
Transfer speed. If you need your transfer to arrive quickly, you can pay for a quick delivery. Companies such as Remitly and WorldRemit offer instant cash pickups but may charge more. If you're not in a rush, online money transfer services can offer the best value, usually getting your money to Kenya faster and cheaper than banks.
Transfer limits. Find out how much you can send with each service. For example, one provider may have a send limit of $10,000 while another may allow you to transfer up to $1 million. For smaller transfers, check the fees. For large transfers, look harder at the exchange rate. Some providers encourage large transfers with low fees.
Transfer type. Does your recipient have a Kenyan bank account or is cash or cell phone top up the better option? Each transfer type will have different fees. For example, instant cash pickups tend to be more expensive than bank transfers.
Discounts. Some providers may offer you a free transfer simply for signing up while others may offer you a discount if you transfer more than a certain amount.
How much money you can send to Kenya will depend on the provider you choose as each will have its own sending limits. Some may only offer small amount transfers of say, $1,000 or under, while other providers may allow you to send $10,000 or more. If you need to send a large transfer, look for a provider that has higher or no sending limits to Kenya.
When you send money to a Kenyan recipient, the first $15,000 for each recipient is exempt from IRS taxes under the Gift Tax policy. If you would like to send $15,000 to multiple recipients, you still won't have to pay any gift taxes.If you do send more than $15,000, you'll need to file an IRS Form 709 to disclose the gift. On top of the $15,000 annual exclusion, you get an $11.7 million lifetime exclusion in 2021. Should you be fortunate enough to have remitted over $11.7 million, you may then be liable for gift taxes at a rate anywhere from 17% to 40%.
The turnaround time for a money transfer to Kenya will depend on the provider and how you pay for the transfer. Expect your transfer to arrive within minutes if you pay cash, or with a debit or credit card. Meanwhile, paying by bank transfer can take longer - usually between 2-5 days.
Make sure the provider you choose is overseen by a government regulator. Most money transfer providers allow you to track your transfer, so you can monitor your cash when it's on the move.
Yes, you can send a money transfer if neither you or your Kenyan recipient has a bank account. Look at cash transfers providers where you can pay in cash and where your recipient can collect in cash or as a cell phone reload instead.
Helen Champion is an associate editor at Finder. She has worked in communications for over 16 years and currently writes on a range of topics including insurance and money transfers in the hope of empowering people to make better financial decisions. During her broadcast career, she helped to produce hundreds of news and breaking news reports for Associated Press TV and ITV News. And in public relations, she managed several high-profile public relations campaigns for Macmillan Cancer Support, the General Medical Council and overseas for Qatar Foundation on behalf of BLJ Worldwide. Helen has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Lincoln, a passion for practising karate in the dojo and a deep love of making mischief with her sons.
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